Saturday, October 20, 2012

it is a constant learning experience

Today I headed out for a 180km ride, planning on 2 loops of Tulum.  About 30 km in I was swallowed by a group of riders who encouraged me to jump in with them so I did.  I've ridden this road (the Only road) for 2 years now and this is the first group I've ever seen.  I've had it in my mind that a 6-hour bike leg is not only attainable (that's only 30kph and I do that with no problem on a 40km or 60km or even 90km ride) but should be expected at Cozumel.  The group was headed out to 25 km along the Coba road past Tulum so I figured I'd ride with them and then make up the remainder after coming home.  I only had $20 with me though, and limited food (one 2-scoop bottle of Perpeteum, a Luna bar and well, that was it) and knew I'd need, at the least water at some point.  I had planned to do my 90km route to Tulum, come home, pick up Jamie (money, water, food) and head out for another Tulum loop.  So I was a bit concerned about that but couldn't bypass my first chance to ride in a group!

There were 3 ladies and one was sitting at the front.  I was super impressed with her.  Everyone stayed together well but some of the guys were a bit squirrely and I tried to stay out of the bars when behind them.  We stopped in Tulum and headed out (into headwind) towards Coba.  It was here I really realized the power of a pack.  Into a headwind we were pulling a nice speed and I sat 2nd from the front most of the 25km out but was never offered to pull.  On the way back we stopped for coco water and I found it strange when one of the riders offered a paramedic (who had pulled his ambulance over at the same coco stand as we were at) to buy him a coco.  The same rider then offered ANOTHER guy a coco but both guys refused him.  I thought it was a little weird that he was offering strangers cocos but I noticed both guys were in uniform (one paramedic) so I thought he just really was supporting their work.  Sometimes I'm incredibly clueless.

The group (I think we were 15 or so) got split at the coco stand and as we headed back I noticed that a grey truck seemed to be following us.  I found this increasingly disturbing and finally said something and was informed that this was their "security" i.e. a sag wagon.  COOLIO!  Back in Tulum the other group was waiting at an Oxxo and Surprise!  The ambulance and paramedic were also there with them.  I was beginning to have a clue.  This group not only had a sag wagon, they had an ambulance accompanying them.  SWEET!  That's riding in style!

Then entire route back from Tulum was pure headwind (as usual) and the group couldn't seem to decide on one strung out line or two.  A little over 30 km from home the hammer came down and the strong riders surged.  I tried helping the slower female riders but she couldn't match the train speed and I almost had a heart attack trying to rejoin the train.  Little by little riders dropped off until it was just 4.  At this point they let me pull.  :)  We dropped down to myself and one other rider and then about 3 km before Puerto (where they all live) he blasted off and I was on my own.  I got home, got supplies and headed out for another 40km.  That was really hard mentally as I was D.O.N.E. after that last effort.  I had a brick planned but wasn't no run happening today.  My legs were BEAT.

I only averaged about 30kph for this ride (but that includes the slow riding on dirt roads home and out again) so that was an excellent point of information, that my expectation for Cozumel is Way inflated for this old body.  I can't see a 30kph average and now I know I need to adjust by at least 30 minutes.  I did 6:45 last year (plus 15 minutes of potty stops etc.) so I'm thinking I should be able to do 6:30.  That would be much more reasonable.  It was so exciting to ride in a group and I'm really happy to have had the chance.  Apparently they ride every Saturday at 6:30 am to 7:00 am so Jamie and I are going to try and find them next weekend too.

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